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Record ketamine seizure in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Narcotics Bureau has seized HK$437 million (approximately £41 million GBP) worth of ketamine in what is believed to be the region’s largest drug bust of its kind. The 682kg of drugs were discovered hidden inside macaroni packages onboard a ship arriving from Pakistan.
EU medical cannabis cross-party alliance formed
An EU medical cannabis cross-party alliance has been formed to ensure standards of medical cannabis are consistent across all EU member states. The group aims to establish a ‘harmonised approach’ to regulating medical cannabis markets to ensure fair and affordable access for patients across the EU.
Report indicates 60% of Ugandan children have consumed alcohol
A report published by Makerere University based on survey data from early 2020 has estimated that up to 60% of school children in Uganda self-report having ever consumed alcohol. Additionally, an estimated 9% said they had ever used cannabis, 8% cocaine, 6% heroin, 11% inhalants, 8% khat and 12% cigarettes. Levels of drug and alcohol use were similar among males and females and appeared to be higher in government schools than in private schools.
Alcohol sales across the UK up by 30% during COVID-19 lock-down
According to data published by market research company Kantar, alcohol sales in shops in England, Scotland and Wales were 30% higher in January 2021 than in January 2020. The increase has been attributed to more people consuming alcohol at home as pubs are closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Total alcohol sales were £234m higher than in January 2020.
Armenia to allow industrial hemp cultivation
As part of Armenia’s programme to enhance the country’s economy, the government has announced plans to use agricultural land to cultivate industrial hemp. Armenia’s prime minister has advised the hemp will not be for human consumption.
US state of Idaho approves ban on legalising cannabis
The Idaho Senate has approved a proposed constitutional ban on cannabis legalisation. Senators argued that cannabis legalisation policies in surrounding states have caused a decline in health and have increased crime rates. If approved by the House, the amendment would also see a permanent ban placed on medical cannabis.
Kansas governor proposes legalising medical cannabis
Kansas governor Laura Kelly has announced plans to legalise medical cannabis, indicating that tax revenue yielded would fund Medicaid healthcare. The announcement follows two separate proposals that have already been filed by Kansas state lawmakers. The proposed bill provides a framework for medical cannabis provision, cultivation and distribution.
US state of Virginia’s general assembly passes recreational cannabis bill
The Virginia General Assembly has passed a bill that, if approved, will legalise recreational cannabis use for adults. If approved, these regulations - like those in other US states and the District of Columbia - would mean possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use would be legal.
Iran confiscates almost 800 tons of narcotics in 10 months
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that more than 778 tons of illicit substances were seized by Iran between January and October in 2020. The most commonly seized substance was opium (621,388 kg) followed by hashish (76,626 kg), heroin (22,815 kg), morphine (17,500 kg) and methamphetamine (14,458 kg).
Croatia increases tobacco excise duty
Croatia’s Ministry of Finance has proposed an increase in excise duties on tobacco and nicotine products including cigarettes and heated tobacco and vaping products. Heated tobacco products will have the greatest increase, with taxes rising by 75% from 800 to 1,400 Kuna per kilogram (approximately £93 GBP to £163 GBP). The new regulations will be introduced in March 2021.
Azerbaijan to include tobacco products on list of excisable goods
Azerbaijan’s Parliament has approved an amendment to legislation meaning that tobacco products will be included on the list of excisable goods. The amendment will see increased taxes on tobacco production and importation, and will cover products intended for smoking, chewing, absorption and sniffing as well as all types of shisha.
Drug Deaths Taskforce in Scotland to receive free naloxone kits
The pharmaceutical company Ethypharm has confirmed that it will supply 10,000 free naloxone kits to Scotland’s Drug Deaths Taskforce. The naloxone kit Prenoxad is the first take-home opioid overdose reversal drug licensed and available for use in non-medical settings. The initiative will be rolled out by naloxone leads across Scotland during 2021.
Alcohol-related deaths reach record high in England and Wales
The Office for National Statistics has reported that alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales reached a record high of 5,400 between January and September 2020. These figures, which indicate an increase of 16% compared with the same reporting period in 2019, are the highest since records began in 2001. There were twice as many alcohol related deaths among males than among females.
McKinsey to pay $573m over opioid crisis
McKinsey & Company, a management consulting company, has agreed to pay $573m for its work with Purdue Pharma on opioid painkiller prescriptions during the US opioid overdose crisis. The settlement, which will be used to fund drug treatment and other responses to the crisis, comes following lawsuits filed by 47 states, five territories and the District of Columbia.
Northern Ireland alcohol-related deaths reach record high
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency has reported that in 2019 alcohol-related deaths in Northern Ireland reached a record high and were 18% higher than in 2018. In total, 336 alcohol-related deaths were reported in 2019, a third more than a decade ago. The majority of deaths (210) were among men.
Annual UK report on substance use treatment for young people
The UK government has reported that 14,291 young people accessed drug and alcohol services in the UK between April 2019 and March 2020. This is a 3% reduction compared with the same period in the previous year. Most (89%) sought treatment for cannabis use, with 42% reporting alcohol use problems and 13% and 10% reporting problems with ecstasy and powder cocaine use respectively.
Three-fold increase smoking cessation treatment in Qatar during COVID-19
Qatar’s Tobacco Control Centre has reported that the number of people seeking smoking cessation treatment increased by 300% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The specialist treatment clinic was accessed by on average 3,000 patients per month compared with 1,000 in the months prior to the pandemic.
Bulgarian drug seizures increase by 27%
Bulgaria’s National Customs Agency (NCA) has reported a 27% increase in the quantity of illegal drugs seized in 2020 compared with 2019. Cannabis seizures increased by 32% and accounted for most of the seizures (2,230 kg of the total 2,820 kg confiscated). Cocaine seizures also increased from 3 kg in 2019 to 225 kg in 2020.
Minnesota proposes bill to legalise sports betting
Lawmakers in the US state of Minnesota have proposed a bill to legalise sports betting saying that it would protect consumers and drive economic activity. The legislation, brought forward by Minnesota state Senator Bigham, stipulates that initially all betting should be in-person at casinos and racetracks, with online gambling to be considered at a later date. If passed, the bill will go into effect towards the end of 2021.
Four tons of cocaine seized near French Caribbean
The Armed Forces of the Antilles have reported the discovery of a record 4.2 tons of cocaine near the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The discovery of 177 bricks of cocaine onboard a fishing vessel was made during an investigation led by several countries.